KS Speaker Candidates Focus on Budget

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ The two legislators who want to be House speaker next year agree on at least one thing _ dealing with the projected state budget deficit will be the top priority.

Speaker Melvin Neufeld, seeking a second term, and his challenger, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike O'Neal, said Thursday the focus on the session starting Jan. 14 will be cutting the budget to bring the projected deficit to zero as state law requires.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has directed state agencies to trim 3 percent from the budget but Neufeld and O'Neal questioned whether that's enough.

A financial forecast Tuesday projected a budget deficit of $137 million in June 2009. It also said if the problem isn't addressed the shortfall could be nearly $1 billion by June 2010.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)